The Department of Energy, like the Treasury Department and Justice, has become a revolving door for shills for oil and fracking companies. Pres. Barack Obama’s nominee for Energy Secretary, Ernest Muniz to replace out going Secretary Steven Chu, is no different.
President Obama’s pick to run the Department of Energy has been a highly paid consultant for a private equity firm heavily invested in the oil and gas sector while running MIT’s premier energy research center, according to financial disclosure documents.
Ernest Moniz, who has directed the MIT Energy Initiative since it was established in 2006, has earned at least $75,000 since 2008 advising Riverstone Equity Holdings LP, which according to government filings has $2.5 billion invested in a variety of fossil fuel production and storage companies in the United States and abroad.
Amy Goodman at Democracy Now discussed Prof. Muniz’s nomination with Kevin Connor of the Public Accountability Initiative and ProPublica reporter Justin Elliott, who have both authored investigations into Moniz’s ties to industry.
The Republican minority in the Senate loves to obstruct confirmation of President Obama’s Cabinet nominees, but it isn’t saying boo about the man who appears set to become the nation’s next energy secretary.
At the same time, Moniz has stressed the importance of moving away from coal and has promoted and called for more funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency. That’s earned him praise from the Natural Resources Defense Council. But other environmental and watchdog groups are campaigning against his nomination because of his industry ties. [..]
Moniz is also coming under criticism for a big report on natural gas released by the MIT Energy Initiative in 2011. It called the environmental impacts of fracking “challenging but manageable,” endorsed natural-gas exports, and talked up gas as a “bridge fuel” that could help the country move away from dirtier fossil fuels and toward clean energy (a controversial notion).
The Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Moniz April 9. MIT has said that Prof. Muniz is not giving interviews, and the White House didn’t respond to requests for comment.